Vet Fighting City Hall to Live off the Grid on His Own Property Tells His Story
Categories: Life Stories
Truth in Media obtained an exclusive interview with Tyler Truitt, the US Marine Corps veteran who is locked in a struggle with the City of Huntsville over his right to live a self-sustaining, off-the-grid, and renewable-energy-powered lifestyle on his own property.
Last week, Truth in Media reported on a dispute, originally covered by WAFF-TV, between Marine Corps veteran Tyler Truitt and the City of Huntsville, wherein city officials are trying to condemn Truitt’s off-the-grid home and drive him off his land. Truitt opted to provide power, water, and waste removal for his home that he shares with his girlfriend through renewable means like solar power, rainwater collection, and composting rather than by hooking up to city utilities, which city authorities say makes his property a danger to the public. Truitt says that he signed up for the military to fight for Americans’ freedoms but feels that, now that he is back on US soil, his own property rights are under threat.
Truitt, whose story has since garnered nationwide interest, provided a lengthy video, embedded above, answering questions and providing details related to his fight to keep living off-the-grid on his own property. Truth in Media went further and obtained an exclusive interview with him and asked some additional follow-up questions to shed light on the particulars of his struggle.
Truth in Media: “Describe in detail the incident in which the armed community relations officer came out to your property to issue the initial citation. Which citation or order was he issuing that day? How many officers were present? Did they send prior notification that they would be coming out that specific day and time? Have you considered filing a complaint or lawsuit pursuant to how the officers appeared on your property unannounced, in plain clothes, and brandishing weapons?”
Tyler Truitt: “Initially we were woken up by our dogs wanting to go outside, which is normal so I didn’t think anything of it until I opened the back door and they took off running and barking. As I chased after them I noticed two [plain clothes] men walking around the back of our house.
As I ran to grab my dogs and yelled at the men I noticed that one of them had a gun pointed at the dogs and then me as I came around the corner. The man with the gun, the CRO, was wearing cargo pants and a plain black jacket which covered his badge which was tucked away, not visible behind the jacket. I shouted at him, ‘What the f*** are you doing back here,’ to which he shouted back identifying himself as ‘the G*ddamn police.’ He then ordered me to take the dogs inside or he was going to ‘drop’ us. By this time, my girlfriend, Soraya, had come running out of the house, and he also was aiming the gun at her as she came out the door. I asked if they had a warrant and where his uniform was. He told me, matter-of-factly, that they didn’t need a warrant to come on my property and that he was a CRO, whatever that meant, and that he doesn’t have to wear a uniform. After a brief standoff which consisted of him waving the gun at all four of us and me holding back the two angry Dobermans ready to lunge at the man they rightfully perceived as a threat to their family, I dragged the concerned animals back into the house.
We were then detained outside in the front yard and presented with a pink citation from the other man, who was from zoning enforcement. The citation simply read, ‘parking a trailer in a restricted area.’ It all honestly seemed like a joke. All that trouble for them to issue what amounted to a parking ticket? I signed the ticket and asked them to please leave now, but they wouldn’t go. They continued to detain us outside, and the CRO told us that he is calling Community Development to come and condemn this house and that we would be leaving today. By that time, several more uniformed officers had arrived at the house and were standing around us. We waited for about half an hour or so detained outside in our pajamas and house shoes. They wouldn’t even let us go back inside to get a jacket. It was early April and still quite cold in the mornings. Finally the man from community development arrived. He didn’t seem to know what was going on. The CRO and man from zoning went off to talk with him privately while the other officers detained us. They obviously didn’t want us to hear whatever was being said. He then marched back to our house and placed a bright yellow paper on it which read, ‘This property has been condemned for unsafe conditions.’
I asked what unsafe conditions they were referring to, and he simply told me that we are not allowed to live without city utilities hooked up… As they were leaving, the CRO told us in a very demeaning manner that we had an hour to get out or else we would be arrested for ‘trespassing.’ We left for a short time to try and file an appeal which we were not allowed to file that day, then returned home. Unimpressed by their threats, we have remained here in defiance.
No notification was ever given that they would be coming here. I had previously spoken with the zoning department, so they had my phone number and mailing address. I clearly told them this was the best way to contact me if needed. I would have happily met with them, just as I have several times since then. On this day, the city, however, chose to endanger the safety of everyone involved with this stunt. Also, I have No Trespassing, Do Not Enter, and Beware of Dog signs at the entrance to my property. We have considered filing a complaint, but I know that this city wouldn’t do anything about it and would probably just tell them all ‘good job’ for harassing us.”
Truth in Media: “Do you have any ideas or theories as to how local codes officials came to target your property? Was there a complaint filed by anyone?”
Tyler Truitt: “They will not tell us who, if anyone, complained. As I have no proof or evidence at this time, I wouldn’t want to speculate. I have however spoken with most of my closest neighbors on the street and I don’t believe it was any of them. They mostly seem to be supportive of our fight with the city.”
Truth in Media: “When you first purchased the property, what steps did you take to see if you were complying with codes? Do you think it would have been possible for you to know in advance of purchasing your property that the city might interpret your plan for your home as being in violation of codes?”